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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney
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My girlfriend lives with me and has a 3 year old girl with

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My girlfriend lives with me and has a 3 year old girl with her ex boyfriend. They have joint custody where one parent gets the child every other week and the father does not pay child support. If my girlfriend takes him to court, how hard would it be for her to get full custody of the child and possibly child support? I understand that it would have to be proven for the childs best interest, how can we do that?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Hello. Thank you for coming to JustAnswer. I am Thoreau and I am sending this answer to you only a few minutes after you asked your question.
You are correct that the primary issue is the child's best interests. There's no one way to show that a child's best interest are served by granting one parent greater custodial rights than the other and there's no way to really gauge how easy or difficult it will be. Unfortunately, the law just isn't as clear as we might like in that regard and there are no "silver bullets" to achieve a favorable outcome. That said, your girlfriend could show that the child's best interests are served by her request using anything relevant to the child's well-being. For instance, if the other parent has a criminal history, abuses alcohol or other substances, etc. those things can be very, very serious in the judge's eyes. Other factors are also relevant, and issues related to schooling, social matters, and family ties can also be important. However, it's also worth noting that the judge may not approve of her cohabitation with a significant other (some judges see that as a moral issue and others may see it as confusing for a child), and that could adversely affect her. Ultimately, the consideration involves the totality of the circumstances and the court considers everything that's relevant to the child's well-being. Ultimately, the custodial parent will be awarded child support according to state guidelines. You can get a rough estimate as to what support might be ordered by using a child support calculator like this one:
I wish you and your family all the best. Please remember that my job here is to provide accurate information about the law. Providing bad news is the hardest part of doing my job but it's a big part of doing my job well. If you feel that the law is wrong or unfair, I'd strongly encourage you to contact your legislators, as they are the only ones who can change it.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The father is an alcohol and lives with his parents. But he has no criminal record. We do know that when he does have the child he spends no time with her, his parents watch the child while he goes to bars and parties. But proving that is the matter. I do understand the cohabitation but if the child loves me and wants to be with us more than her father at the age of 3, can we prove that to the judge some way? And the fact that I am a law enforcement officer help that the child's welfare is safe?
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your message. The judge isn't likely to consider the child's preference at age 3. Judges recognize that children play favorites and that they aren't mature enough to make decisions like that. That said, your good character could help to prevent the relationship and cohabitation weighing against your girlfriend as, were you not of good character, that could really hurt her because the judge may then not want the child around you. For that reason, your profession and good character can be good for her, relative to the alternative.
The father's alcoholism and lifestyle can affect the matter, as can the fact that he doesn't spend time with the child. As you said, she would need to be able to show that. Her attorney can help her do so using a variety of evidence, which could include emails, voicemails, witness testimony, etc. Custody and visitation are generally regarded as time for the parent and the child - not for the grandparents and the child. If a parent is disinterested and doesn't spend time with the child, the court will often place the child with the other parent. That said, the noncustodial parent will still have some degree of visitation, if not custodial rights, unless he is unfit and represents a danger to the child.
I genuinely hope that the matter works out well for your girlfriend and her child. I'm glad that the child has people like you and her who are interested in her life and well-being.
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